Tag Archives: David Whyte

Friday No Easy Answers Blogging

What David Whyte Said about Anger


We tend — especially as women, and especially as “good” liberals, and especially as magic workers who’ve been socialized to “reach for the light,” — to do all that we can to deny anger. But as David Whyte explains, if we didn’t love, we’d never need to get angry. Sometimes, anger is the only possible, honest response.


at its heart, is the deepest form of compassion, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family and for all our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger is the purest form of care, the internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for. What we usually call anger is only what is left of its essence when it reaches the lost surface of our mind or our body’s incapacity to hold it, or the limits of our understanding. What we name as anger is actually only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.

What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.

Our anger breaks to the surface most often through our feeling there is something profoundly wrong with this powerlessness and vulnerability; anger too often finds its voice strangely, through our incoherence and through our inability to speak, but anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics: a daughter, a house, a family, an enterprise, a land or a colleague. Anger turns to violence and violent speech when the mind refuses to countenance the vulnerability of the body in its love for all these outer things – we are often abused or have been abused by those who love us but have no vehicle to carry its understanding, who have no outer emblems of their inner care or even their own wanting to be wanted. Lacking any outer vehicle for the expression of this inner rawness they are simply overwhelmed by the elemental nature of love’s vulnerability. In their helplessness they turn their violence on the very people who are the outer representation of this inner lack of control.

But anger truly felt at its center is the essential living flame of being fully alive and fully here, it is a quality to be followed to its source, to be prized, to be tended, and an invitation to finding a way to bring that source fully into the world through making the mind clearer and more generous, the heart more compassionate and the body larger and strong enough to hold it. What we call anger on the surface only serves to define its true underlying quality by being a complete and absolute mirror-opposite of its true internal essence.

What makes you angry?

Picture found here.

Those Who Live Alone


As someone who lives and gardens alone,* I love what David Whyte has to say about it:


It happens to those
who live alone
that they feel sure
of visitors
when no one else
is there.

Until the one day
and the one particular
working in the
quiet garden,

when they realize
at once
that all along
they have been
an invitation
to everything
and every kind of trouble

and that life
happens by
to those who

like the bees
the tall mallow
on their legs of gold,
or the wasps
going from door to door
in the tall forest
of the daisies.

I have my freedom
because nothing
really happened

and nobody came
to see me,
only the slow
growing of the garden
in the summer heat

and the silence of that
unborn life
making itself
known at my desk,

my hands
with the crumbling
as I write
and watch

the first lines
of a new poem
like flowers
of scarlet fire
coming to fullness
in a clear light.

* I can actually count on one hand the times that I’ve been truly alone (way, way, way up in the lonely San Gabriel Mountains and way, way, way out over the Atlantic) and they were glorious. I work in a city and live in a close-in suburban neighborhood and, with my highly-permeable Pisces boundaries, I’m never really alone. I’ve learned, over 58 years, to shield and to block out a lot of the “noise,” but that takes a constant, sustained effort — one that I was well into adulthood before I realized that I was always performing. That takes energy and it’s not surprising that we Introverts get drained by too much company.

And then there is my Bit of Earth, my landbase, and whenever I am “alone” at home, I am engaged in a relationship with the place, with the powers, and spirits, and beings of this place. So, “alone” is a relative term.

Nonetheless, I agree with Mr. Whyte that life happens to those who inhabit silence.

Picture found here.

Another One or Two Before National Poetry Month Is Come and Gone


~ David Whyte

Take the road above
to Caheranadurrish
one day soon, in springtime,
when you’ve given yourself
that miracle hour alone

so that below you
the green valley is filled
from end to end
with the arriving waveform
of whitethorn and birdsong

while above,
the blue moving sky
is torn
with wind and cloud

and follow the road to the top
as if you could walk
straight off that horizon
and go on
into the thin air
of your waiting life…

Picture by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

Fallen In Love With Solid Ground

Once More, Into the Breach

My soul is longing for Spring, but Mamma Gaia’s not ready yet. We’re about to get another serious Winter storm that will keep me working at home for several days.

I’m going to immerse myself in Gabriel Roth’s good practices:

and David Whyte‘s poem:


You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

I shan’t be gone long. You come, too.

A Poem About Love

It’s All Real. It’s All Metaphor. There’s Always More.


Hylozoism is the belief that all matter is alive. David Whyte touches on it in his wonderful poem:

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

And Sylvia is writing about it in this lovely post where she quotes David Abram:

To speak of anything as inanimate is kinda disrespectful. It’s insulting to the thing. Why do it? It cuts me off from listening to what that thing might want in the world, to what that object, that presence, might be asking of me. I don’t see any usefulness in making a conceptual division between that which is animate on one hand, and that which is inanimate on the other. And I know of no healthy culture that makes such a division between animate and inanimate matter. […]

People always want to draw the line somewhere. But you see, it’s drawing the line at all that’s the problem: the idea that at bottom matter is ultimately inert, or inanimate. The word “matter,” if you listen with your animal ears, is basically the word ‘mater,’ or mother. It comes from the same Indo-European root as the word ‘matrix,’ which is Latin for ‘womb.’

We all carry within us an ancient, ancestral awareness of matter as the womb of all things, a sense that matter is alive through and through. But to speak of matter as inanimate is to think of mother as inanimate, to imply that the female, earthly side of things is inert, is just an object. If we want to really throw a monkeywrench into the workings of the patriarchy, then we should stop speaking as though matter is in any way, at any depth, inanimate or inert.

Every indigenous, oral culture that we know of — every culture that has managed to sustain itself over the course of many centuries without destroying the land that supports it — simply refuses to draw such a distinction between animate and inanimate matter. […]

In relation to certain human artifacts, particularly the mass-produced objects, it ís difficult to make contact with and feel the unique life of that presence. Yet one can find that life pulsing, most readily, in the materials of which that artifact is made. In the wood of the telephone pole, which was once standing in a forest, in the clay bricks of the apartment building, even in the smooth metal alloy of the truck door that you lean against — there, in those metals originally mined from the bones of the breathing earth, one can still feel the presence of patterns that are earthborn, and that still carry something of that wider life. But if I look at the truck purely as a truck, what I see is not something that is born, but something that is made. And there is surely an important distinction between the born and the made. But even with that distinction, the made things are still made from matter, from the flesh of a living cosmos.

Sylvia concludes:

I know that it is complicated, and fraught, and violent in certain ways, to imagine what it would mean if we lived in a world without massive shipping containers full of masses of plastic and packaged and fabricated items come across the great Pacific in great huge freighters, a world not seamed and oiled with freeways and the cars that speed along them, but nevertheless it is important to dream, to tell oneself and one another stories that are not in the language of shipping container and SUVs, but rather in the language of animate beings and materials, of living bodies. For as David Abram says, when we start drawing a line, saying this thing is animate and this thing is not, we automatically produce hierarchies of value and meaning, and it becomes easy to objectify and mass-produce, and thus, destroy.

But if everything is “animate,” well… the thought spirals outward like a thousand dandelion seeds, and who knows where they land… but they do love sidewalk cracks!

My GPS is named Stella.

Picture found here.

Blessings of the Harvest Moon


Spent 12 hours doing work that I feel privileged to get to do. Now, I need to go ground under the light of the Full Harvest Moon. May it be so for you.

To come to ground is to find a home in circumstances and to face the truth, no matter how difficult that truth may be; to come to ground is to begin the courageous conversation, to step into difficulty and by taking that first step, begin the movement through all difficulties at the same time, to find the support and foundation that has been beneath our feet all along, a place to step onto, a place on which to stand and a place from which to step.

~ David Whyte

Picture found here.

Thursday Evening PotPourri


* Oh, this would be lovely to listen to on the way to and from work. Most anything by David Whyte is good. Here he is on Rest:

The template of natural exchange is the breath, the autonomic giving and receiving which is the basis and the measure of life itself. We are rested when we are a living exchange between what lies inside and what lies outside, when we are an intriguing conversation between the potential that lies in our imagination and the possibilities for making that internal image real in the world; we are rested when we let things alone and let ourselves alone, to do what we do best, breathe as the body intended us to breathe. When we give and take in this foundational way we are closest to the authentic self, and closest to that self when we are most rested. To rest is not self indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves, and to perhaps, most importantly, arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given.

Excerpt From Readers’ Circle Essay, ‘REST’
©2011 David Whyte

* Yoga can be a lot like ballet.

hat tip: D.

The Sackler Gallery is about to host what looks like a spectacular exhibit on Yoga: The Art of Transformation and the National Gallery of Art is in the final weeks of a brilliant exhibit on the Ballets Russes: When Art Danced with Music. I slipped out at lunch one day this week to see this exhibit and hope I’ll get over to the Sackler for the one on yoga. What art is inspiring you these days?

* Here’s a bit of inspiration for the next time you call the Element of Water.

* You have to read Terri Windling today. Here’s a taste:

“Perhaps we are born knowing the tales, for our grandmothers and all their ancestral kin continually run about in our blood repeating them endlessly, and the shock they give us when we first hear them is not of surprise but of recognition. Things long unknowingly known have suddenly been remembered. Later, like streams, they run underground. For a while they disappear and we lose them. We are busy, instead, with our personal myth in which the real is turned to dream and the dream becomes the real. Sifting this is a long process. It may perhaps take a lifetime and the few who come around to the tales again are those who are in luck.”

The subsequent discussion of Sleeping Beauty reminded me of one of my favorite Dorothy Parker poems:


The day that I was christened-
It’s a hundred years, and more!-
A hag came and listened
At the white church door,
A-hearing her that bore me
And all my kith and kin
Considerately, for me,
Renouncing sin.
While some gave me corals,
And some gave me gold,
And porringers, with morals
Agreeably scrolled,
The hag stood, buckled
In a dim gray cloak;
Stood there and chuckled,
Spat, and spoke:
“There’s few enough in life’ll
Be needing my help,
But I’ve got a trifle
For your fine young whelp.
I give her sadness,
And the gift of pain,
The new-moon madness,
And the love of rain.”
And little good to lave me
In their holy silver bowl
After what she gave me-
Rest her soul!

Picture found here.